Peace Truck: Middle East Diplomacy Through Food

Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post

Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post

Serving both halal and kosher food from two windows directly next to each other, Peace Truck is Moustafa M. Soliman’s bid to inspire, well, peace in the Middle East. It’s a gastrodiplomacy experiment that the 76-year-old would like to see take off not only in D.C. and other U.S. cities like Chicago and New York, but also in Israel and the West Bank. 

Born in Cairo, Egypt, the former Energy Department staffer took the idea from his recently published novel An Arab, a Jew and a Truck. The story follows “a devout Palestinian Muslim and an American Orthodox Jew who are forced by circumstance to live together and share a kosher kitchen in the Bronx… and by the book’s end are dreaming of launching a kosher and halal food truck.” 

Soliman recalls a more amicable time during his childhood, when his parents would host weekly card games with Jewish neighbors. By the time he was studying mechanical engineering at Berkeley as a graduate student, he witnessed “fierce debates over Israel and Palestine.” He told The Washington Post, “Those debates disturbed me because they left me feeling that there was an endemic hatred between Arabs and Jews, while ignoring the fact that Arab societies historically included Muslims, Christians and Jews.”

D.C. has seen its share of similar efforts. Last year, coffee company Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi and the American Turkish Association organized a Turkish coffee truck to highlight Turkish Cultural Heritage Month and the country’s coffee culture. Meanwhile, the State Department invited American chefs to help plan dinners for foreign dignitaries as a way to showcase U.S. culinary culture. 

 [via The Washington Post]

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